Celtic boss Neil Lennon has compared Liverpool’s struggles of late with Celtic’s circumstances this term, citing the loss of fans as a major contributing factor.
The Reds did temporarily benefit from the return of spectators following an easing of COVID-19 restrictions but have since followed suit with other Premier League clubs in playing games behind closed doors, in light of updated government guidance.
“It’s not normal because with the fans, it’s not been the same, and I think the players have felt that more than anybody else,” the 49-year-old told The Herald. “I’m not saying any other club, but I’m talking within the club the players have felt that loss of spark, that energy.”
There’s no questioning the loss of the Anfield faithful and the potential resulting impact on performances; the supporters can be a massive source of motivation when the side is behind or exactly the injection of adrenaline we need when we’re in risk of dropping a lead.
Quantifying their influence in relation to points is a near impossible task, of course, but it’s fair to say that our fans do genuinely make a difference – though, it is a problem shared, to a certain degree, across the league.
Lennon’s right to highlight their importance, however, it’s clear that a great deal of Liverpool’s issues stem from a range of other sources – most notably the gaping hole left by sidelined stars Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Additionally, prior to our FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, the Reds looked bereft of confidence in the final third, despite showing glimpses of their title-winning form.
A new centre-half wouldn’t be a fix-all solution, nonetheless, it would help provide more certainty in defence and ensure that key midfielders wouldn’t have to be pulled back into the back four to make up for the loss.